Nature even better from a lodge

Longitude 131 and Ayers Rock ResortYulara, NT

Adventurers travel the world to see Earth's great landforms, among them the Grand Canyon, Everest, the Alps and this one: Ayers Rock, a chili-powder-red monolith mounding out of a flat desert in the centre of Australia.

And, pinch me, it's framed by the window of my room at this luxury lodging in the outback.

In fact, raise the sunshade in any of the 15 freestanding units, and the rock - now known by its aboriginal name, Uluru - is centre view, 10km distant. Each canvas-domed habitat is unique, dedicated to an outback pioneer and decorated with artefacts from that person or his era.

Human history gives way to natural history, however, in the tours at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park included for guests. In late afternoon, we're guided along Mala Walk on Uluru's northwest face and hear of Aboriginals' link to the sacred rock.

The 1.6km hike ends with canapes and Champagne as the sun ignites flame colours in the iron-rich coat the rock wears.

At sunrise, we watch dawn rouge the rounded cheeks of Kata Tjuta, formerly called the Olgas. The 36 rock domes about 32km west of Uluru were eroded from a pudding of pebbles, stones and boulders stirred into mud and sand and hardened over epochs. The wind-scoured, 2.5km walk in Walpa Gorge passes huge crumbs of this geologic batter.

Cameras get a workout at the Uluru sunset viewing before we're taken to a high point near the resort for a candlelight gourmet dinner under a blanket of stars.

Like all the delectable meals and wines at Longitude, this costs nothing extra. Neither do snacks, park fees, a shopper's shuttle into the town of Yulara, or airport transfers. Apart from options for private guiding or touring and a few remembrances for sale (some are fine art, priced accordingly), Longitude is all-inclusive.

Named for Earth's north-south grid line that passes through the national park and the resort, Longitude is easy on the land. The tent-roofed, hard-side rooms incorporate insulating materials and central Australia's boundless solar energy for climate control, and each unit is elevated to allow natural movement of the sand beneath.

The resort is sumptuous in setting and furnishings, but it was designed to be deconstructed. Its parts could be disassembled and carried away and the desert left as it was found. For the eco-minded, it's revelation of caring.

www.longitude131.com.au

Ayers Rock Resort, owned like Longitude by the Indigenous Land Corp, offers additional lodgings, from motel-style to camping.

www.ayersrockresort.com.au